We live in a world filled with uncertainty and tragedy. Every day we hear of some event that devastates people’s lives. Where can these people turn? Where can the husband turn if his wife is found in adultery? Where can the mom turn if her child dies? Where can you turn to if you lose a job? Should people in such tragic circumstances be forced to look for help from professional counselors?
Pastors need to be equipped to give hope to people through the most severe trials. They ought to be equipped to take hurting congregants to the scriptures and point them to a powerful sovereign God who cares about the lost and hurting. The pastor ought to be able revive the common hope we have from believing in a God who cares about troubled and broken people.
Yet with all the resources available for pastors, too often I hear of pastors who sub-let this task. They refer congregants not to the Word, but to outside “professionals.” In so doing, pastors relegate soul care to those outside the church, and away from the accountability and validation of the church elders. The result is that some within the church lose confidence in either the sufficiency of scripture, or in the pastor’s knowledge of the Bible. After all, if the pastor can’t give counsel from the Bible, then certainly the problem is either with the pastor or the Bible.
Scriptures tells us that every believer in Christ is both capable and equipped for the ministry of encouragement to another believer. Romans 15:14 says, “Concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.”
The duty and responsibility of every pastor is to take care of the soul-work in their flock. It is the preaching of the word of God that produces the need for help as people realize they need pastoral care in putting off habitual sin. The pastor should to be equipped to do this kind of work. Yes, he may have gone to seminary, yes he may know his Bible in the Greek and the Hebrew but does he know how to talk to “Joe hurting” and help him in his darkness?
This is where pastors are tested; how they fare in the trenches of life is really the measure of their ministry. We need to be equipped to bring the Bible to bear on the difficulties of life, and we need to counsel with confidence—a confidence that is not in ourselves, but rooted in the word of God. To avoid these difficulties is to ultimately fail as a shepherd and cast doubt on trustworthiness of the Bible.